The level of wakefulness is one of the major factors affecting nociception and pain. Stress-induced analgesia supports an animal's survival via prompt defensive responses against predators or competitors. Previous studies have shown the pharmacological effects of orexin peptides on analgesia. However, orexin neurons contain not only orexin but also other co-transmitters such as dynorphin, neurotensin and glutamate. Thus, the physiological importance of orexin neuronal activity in nociception is unknown. Here we show that adult-stage selective ablation of orexin neurons enhances pain-related behaviors, while pharmacogenetic activation of orexin neurons induces analgesia. Additionally, we found correlative activation of orexin neurons during nociception using fiber photometry recordings of orexin neurons in conscious animals. These findings suggest an integrative role for orexin neurons in nociceptive perception and pain regulation.
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